Mouse lemurs help Peter Larsen, Anne Yoder et al. advance research on Alzheimer's

Peter Larsen, a Senior Research Scientist in the Yoder Lab, has published a ground-breaking paper on the mechanism that may underlie neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Like humans, and unlike other lemurs, captive gray mouse lemurs show signs of cognitive impairment and amyloid brain plaques as they age. By analyzing the mouse lemur genome, Larsen discovered that genes commonly associated with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s contain elements which can insert copies of themselves in new places. These “jumping genes” can change the shape of essential proteins, which causes mitochondria to malfunction so that the neuron doesn’t get enough energy and dies. This finding indicates that researchers should look for drugs that inhibit the jumping genes, rather than attack the amyloid plaques directly.

The paper is in press with the Journal of Alzheimer’s & Dementia.

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